Mangoes are the Indian summer's one sweet spot. When the landscape is whitened out by the blinding harshness of the sun and the earth and its people, both wear a pained and parched look, these mangoes are one of the few things that can bring a gleam of satisfaction and a smile of contentment to the faces of most Indians!
India is truly the land of mangoes.. we, literally, have hundreds of varieties. Of the top of my head, I can think of the 'Kesar' and 'Hapus' from the west, the 'Bangenapalli' and 'Totapuri' from down south, the 'Dashehari' and 'Chausa' from the north and the 'Langra' and 'Kishen bhog' from the east, each from a different corner of India and each with its distinctive fragrance, shape, colour and taste!!!
And if you value your peace of mind, you are well advised never to ask a group of Indians which is the best of them all!! Many a discussion has centred on this futile topic that can have no logical conclusion, with each variety being vociferously defended by its admirers!! If you ask me, its the mango that you had as a child that will always be your favourite!! Having grown up in Bombay (now Mumbai), my favourite is the Hapus (Alphonso) that comes from the nearby region of Ratnagiri in western India. I can already hear the snorts of indifference and the grunts of disbelief coming my way at my choice!!
The mango has even earned itself a cheesy sobriquet as the 'King of Fruits'. While I may not be much into royalty, I do enjoy my mango .. and yes, eaten the true Indian way.. with my hands and by sucking on the flesh and the seed!!! If you are an Indian reading this...you know what I am talking about!!
But every once in a while, I like to incorporate it into my desserts. Keeping the season in mind, the palate and the meal crave for a dessert that is light and refreshing. And you also owe it to the ''King'' that he be showcased in the best possible way!! This dessert does all of that beautifully and much more...
A panna cotta is traditionally an Italian all- cream dessert but that would make it just too rich and heavy for the summer. I then came across a yoghurt variation that replaced some of the cream with yoghurt to lighten it. Taking it a step further, I replaced all the cream with yoghurt. The purists will argue that it's not a panna cotta anymore but then, I never claimed I was playing by the rules!!
The mango is beautifully showcased in both the layers. The top layer, a pure mango jelly, highlights the flavour of the fruit that goes on to find a subtler accent in the bottom layer. The flavour of the mango that you use will clearly shine through in this dessert. The yoghurt ensures that you are not left with a heavy, cloying feeling after this dessert, a factor that will be much appreciated in this weather!!
This is a beautiful, light and refreshing dessert for the summer and I insist that you try it atleast once before the mangoes leave the market!!!